Yaniv Attar, Whatcom Symphony Orchestra’s music director, has been asked many times about his philosophy of programing new music, and he has a general rule: If you have to be a musicologist or a composer to appreciate a work, that’s usually something he will not program.
“Music is a language,” he says, “and it needs to connect to the listeners immediately.”
For that reason, he’s looking forward to the symphony’s “Harmony from Discord” concert at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 6, at Mount Baker Theatre.
The idea for the multi-season series began when Attar was looking for a topic for his comprehension exams at McGill University and he came across a book about violinist Alma Rosa, conductor of the women’s orchestra in Auschwitz. The book opened the door for him to the world of music created in the concentration camps, and to the composers who wrote music during that dark time in history.
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“Historically, I think it is interesting to learn about all the composers who wrote during that time, and how their creation transcended oppression,” says Attar, who discusses the works at Whatcom Symphony’s website.
One of the highlights of Sunday’s concert, subtitled “Music That Transcends Oppression,” will be a brief talk by Noemi Ban, a Holocaust survivor who lives in Bellingham and speaks frequently at schools.
“It is important to learn about these composers and their work, but with all honesty, the music comes first, and I have no doubt that people will love hearing this music,” Attar says.
Play with clay
Deb McCunn of Baker Creek Ceramics has been working with clay off and on since high school, and has worked in ceramic art full-time since 2008.
Linda R. Hughes has been working in clay since 1991 and tried a variety of techniques before settling on wheel-thrown functional ware.
In 2011, Ann Marie Cooper of Kulshan Clayworks learned to coil-build pottery, and hasn’t stopped since.
Madeline Klusmire, who has worked in ceramics for eight years, creates pieces in porcelain and makes functional ceramics covered with colorful surface design, collecting imagery from nature and her surroundings.
All of them are excited about the inaugural Clay Extravaganza, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 5, in Depot Market Square, 1100 Railroad Ave. It’s sponsored by Whatcom Artists of Clay and Kiln (WACK). There are about 40 members in WACK, which aims to raise awareness of the value and joy of handmade clay objects.
Live demonstrations will show a broad range of activities, including throwing on the potter’s wheel, sculpting, and the chemistry behind glazing and firing.
Hughes says WACK has become a local avenue for people who work in ceramics to reach out to each other, socialize, work together, aid each other with technical issues, and plan events like Sunday’s event and Empty Bowls, which takes place May 25 and raises money for Bellingham Food Bank and Maple Alley Inn.
Klusmire says clay has become a way for her to reduce stress and to escape.
“The hands-on section of the extravaganza will be an awesome place of discovery for those who might not ever get the chance to try it out otherwise,” she says.
Kuntz presents repertory dance
Dancer and choreographer Pam Kuntz is known for creating multimedia performances that address a specific topic, such as family, aging, or health. She says her work to be staged at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 4-5, at Firehouse Performing Arts Center is a new adventure for her company.
“Revived, Refurbished, and Recent” pulls individual sections from her past pieces and two new shorter works. The result is a repertory concert full of variety, she says.
. Included is a hilarious and rhythmic look at family from the 2012’s “The Family Project,” performed by Angela Kiser and Zach Wymore.
“Hide and Seek,” from 2014, was about how we care for our children.
Ian Bivins and Vanessa Daines perform a duet originally created for 2011’s “In Home,” about the challenge of who gets to the television remote control first.
Details: kuntzandco.org, 360-510-4711.
Marla Bronstein recently let the bands who were vying for spots at the annual Elizabeth Park summer concert series learn who got the gigs. The series is sponsored by The Eldridge Society, in partnership with Bellingham Parks and Recreation Department, from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursdays, June 23 through Aug. 25. Here’s the first half of the season:
June 23: Midnight Legend
June 30: CC Adams Band
July 7: Scary Monster & The Super Creeps
July 14: Flattery
July 21: The Sweet Dominques